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02/10/2013

The Ultimate Gin Quest - Part 2

by Giles Cooper (Head of Marketing & PR)

There can’t be too many places you can work where you might receive an email that starts “We will be having a blind gin tasting at midday...” It’s one of the joys of BI.

In the quest to find the Ultimate gins, our next port of call was the mysterious Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin. Once again, this was brought to our attention by MD Gary Boom who met the producers at Carfest South, held at the home of his Hampshire neighbour Jody Scheckter; great packaging and some good, honest sales patter convinced Gary to give the gin a go. Joy, amazement, an element of bewilderment all followed – and the next thing we know we’re sitting in a BI meeting room with producers Tom Warner and Sion Edwards.

Warner Edwards is the brainchild of the aforementioned Tom and Sion, a pair of farmers’ sons who met at Agricultural College. A love of rugby, booze and a shared sense of entrepreneurial spirit gleaned a close friendship and after graduation, careers in the produce industry beckoned – although that desire to set up a business together lingered on. The drinks business was always an idea that interested them: the original thought was boutique Vodka produced on Sion’s family farm in North Wales but over the course of 5 years this had changed to boutique Gin produced on Tom’s family farm in Northamptonshire – partly due to the proffered use of a 200-year old stone barn to house their still, and partly thanks to a fantastic natural spring further down the field from the main farm buildings.

The quest began with some serious research: a night out drinking nothing but Gin. Of course the intention here was to identify the competition and come up with a fresh new angle to give their product a real sense of purpose. It’s hard to say how much careful research was done after the first few glasses went down but it certainly cemented the plan to move forward with creating their own gin. Once they had a clear idea of what character they wanted their gin to have, it was a case of blending and re-blending multiple recipes to find the one that worked – and unlike with Sacred, it was the very first blend of over 20 recipes which hit the spot! Thus Warner Edwards Harrington (the name of the village) Dry Gin was born.

The next step was the acquisition of a stunning, brand-new Holstein copper still. Delivered from Germany on three pallets (but with fewer instructions than an IKEA wardrobe) it took the boys around 8 hours to assemble – and with good fortune it not only JUST fit through the door but JUST fit under the ceiling, although a few upper floorboards had to be removed… The still, named ‘Curiosity’, produces 700-bottle batches of a truly extraordinary gin quite unlike any other we have tasted before. Along with the traditional juniper and coriander notes is a remarkable black pepper, gentle masala, almost ginger biscuit character along with the balancing freshness and bitterness of home-grown elderflower - which shows especially well in the context of a Martini. Make no mistake: it can be divisive and if you’re exclusively a fan of the crisp, sharp flavours of a gin such as Tanqueray, it may not be for you… however if you like to try something new, exciting and just downright delicious, we heartily recommend it.

As with the Sacred Gin from part 1 – watch this space and check your inboxes for an offer on Warner Edwards gin soon…